Tiffany & Co. set the bar high when it revealed the first look at its year-long campaign with Beyoncé and Jay-Z on Monday. It not only makes the power couple’s first joint campaign but also a rare public appearance of a 1982 Jean-Paul Basquiat painting titled Equals Pi that happens to be in the jewelry company’s signature blue. According to Tiffany, the ad is “the result of a close collaboration and a shared vision” exploring “connection and vulnerability.” It’s soon set to take over all of the digital billboards in Times Square, and meant to usher in the jeweler’s “new brand identity.” (LVMH, the mega-conglomerate that owns Dior and Louis Vuitton, acquired the company for $16.2 billion in 2019.)
While this is certainly its highest-profile moment, Equals Pi isn’t entirely unseen: A photo of it ran in the pages of this very magazine, in a look at the art collection of the Sabbadinis, another big name in jewelry. Tiffany has since acquired it, with plans to display the work at its Fifth Avenue flagship, and it’s clearly a coup to LVMH’s Alexandre Arnault. He even went as far as to suggest to credit the brand with Basquiat’s artistic inspiration. “We don’t have any literature that says he made the painting for Tiffany,” he told WWD. “[But] we know he loved New York, and that he loved luxury and he loved jewelry. My guess is that the [palette] is not by chance. The color is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage.”
Stefania Sabbadini (left) and her daughter, Micól Sabbadini, in the living room of their Milan apartment with their West Highland terrier, Twiggy, and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Equals Pi, 1982. Stefania wears a Marc Jacobs gown and shoes, jewelry from her namesake line. Micól wears Balmain clothing, Sabbadini jewelry, Tom Ford shoes.
Photograph by Walter Pfeiffer; Styled by Gianluca Longo.
Of course, the campaign also features jewelry. Beyoncé is now one of only four women—and the first Black woman—to ever wear the Tiffany Diamond, a yellow stone with what is apparently an “unprecedented” 82 carats. After Tiffany purchased it for a then gargantuan $18,000 in 1877, its gemologist studied the diamond for a full year before cutting it, reducing the carats from 287 to 182.54 to highlight its color. The socialite Mary Sheldon was the first to get the honor of wearing it in 1957; its other rare appearances have been on Audrey Hepburn in promo for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Lady Gaga at the 2019 Academy Awards. Jay-Z scored on accessories, too: He wears a cufflink version of the Bird on a Rock brooch designed by Jean Schlumberger, one of the reigning jewelry designers of the 20th century. (Clients included Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jackie Kennedy.)
Clearly, the newfound partnership has gotten the couple’s creative juices flowing: Stay tuned for a video of Beyoncé singing “Moon River,” filmed by Jay-Z on a Super 8, and more shorts by the directors Dikayl Rimmasch and Derek Milton. Maybe those components will clarify what Beyoncé and Jay-Z mean in their statement made in the press release: “Love is the diamond that the jewelry and the art decorate.”
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